Sep 1, 2022
Time is one of our most valuable assets. Once it’s gone, there’s no getting it back – so how we spend it holds weight. With the average person clocking as many as 90,000 hours in the workplace, it’s clear that our chosen career environments can have a huge impact on our quality of life.
Good time management can better the work-life balance, but as the demands of our fast-paced and competitive workplaces continue to grow, it’s a constant challenge for everyone. And the bigger picture is less about ticking off a to-do list; the way that we plot our schedules has a tangible impact on our physical and mental wellbeing.
Burnout is real – and it’s on the rise. In fact, according to the 2022 State of the Global Workplace Report, employee stress is at a new all-time high. As workloads get heavier, sustained productivity is ever-more elusive, and poor time management can spill out into all areas of our lives, resulting in overwhelm and fatigue, and missed deadlines and appointments.
When we’re constantly juggling priorities, it can feel like time is slipping away from us. It’s essential, then, that we refine the tools needed to tackle our demanding calendars with focus, efficiency and ease – and put a stop to feeling overburdened.
What are the benefits of better time management?
From a better work-life balance to boosted professional reputation, the impact of improved time management is wide-reaching, not only benefiting us on an individual level, but our wider collective of colleagues and peers too.
Providing a sense of direction, control and efficiency, time management helps reduce long-term stress and strain by putting workers back in the driving seat. Our adrenal response (think “fight or flight”) kicks into high gear when we’re feeling overwhelmed, underprepared and ultimately unable to tackle what lies ahead of us – and chronic activation of this stress response presents a threat to our health. Problems at work can quite literally keep us awake at night – but advanced planning can quell the persistent worry, affording us peace of mind and the opportunity to rest and bank those extra hours of sleep.
More time for yourself
An efficient approach to juggling priorities frees up more time to spend on ourselves. Better time management leaves more space for leisure, play, family-time and that all-important window to wind down and switch off. The science states that recovery is essential to overcoming workplace stress, and ticking off that to-do list limits the work that you bring through the front door with you.
Time management helps eliminate distractions by streamlining our focus. Refining our ability to allocate time to specific priorities (and factor in efficient breaks) confronts our tendencies to procrastinate. The role of focus has taken on renewed importance in our post-pandemic workplaces and is cited as one of the key components of a knowledge-driven economy. Managing our time forces us to confront how we divide our attention and enhances our capacity to make every minute count.
The more we are able to focus on the task at hand, the better our quality of output. No more rushed reports, sloppy mistakes and spreading ourselves too thin. Planning our days and plotting effective timelines leaves more space for us to approach each task with the same level of energy and motivation.
Today’s employers are looking for candidates who exhibit self-discipline, consistent productivity and professional workplace behaviour. Good time management skills will keep you level-headed and on track to hitting your targets. We all want to collaborate with colleagues we can rely on, so being known for this type of work ethic can significantly improve your working relationships. When you’ve proven you can meet tight deadlines without compromising quality of work, that can pave the way to all kinds of career progressions and commendations.
Top tips for better time management
Time management begins with self-management. Work on minimising those distractions. With noise, interruptions and the tempting call of digital communications carving away 28% of our working day, the window for productive output ends up significantly smaller. Establish schedules and workflows and stick to them. Have a clear view of your responsibilities and keep holding yourself accountable.
Plan in advance
Do you know when you’re most productive? Research on ultradian rhythms shows that our day is driven by cycles that affect how motivated and alert we are. Armed with this knowledge, we can plan ahead and assign high priority work to these maximum output windows. Set time estimates and plot projects using visual tools (like time-tracking softwares and daily planners) to keep a clear view of your workload.
Make lists and maintain boundaries, which means accepting your limitations and learning to say no to additional tasks that lie outside of these parameters. Sticking to your guns and utilising your specialist skills to ‘do the work that only you can do’ will actually benefit the wider team in the long-run. Not only that, but streamlining your decision-making means you’ll avoid multitasking – which actually wastes more time. A shift in tasks spurs a cognitive switch that ends up depleting mental resources.
Should you find the workload is still piled high, it’s time to delegate. Outsourcing is a growing market and set to be the go-to approach for tackling future labour challenges.
Master management skills with Abertay’s online MBA
With modules in project management, people management and strategy management, Abertay University’s online MBA with Project Management course will arm you with all the skills, knowledge and expertise you need to level up your business leadership.
You’ll get to exercise your own time management skills through independent study, with a go-at-your-own-pace part-time course built to work around your other personal and professional commitments. You can even ‘earn while you learn’ and apply your newfound knowledge to your current career track.
Designed with your future in mind, your studies will empower you to steer teams and organisations toward sustainable success on both a national and global scale, making you a sought-after graduate in the modern workplace.